If there's a poster child for how music education can benefit students, Logan Brown might be it.
The Red Lion Area Senior High School senior has spent years developing music skills with relentless self-initiative.
In third grade, he learned to play viola.
In eighth grade, he learned French horn to broaden his musical opportunities, such as marching band.
And in high school, he learned bass since he wanted to be in the pit orchestra for the musicals.
Along the way, he was a co-drum major and played in the York Youth Symphony Orchestra, among other music credits.
"There are always opportunities," said Brown, 18, of Red Lion. "Other schools are cutting programs. (Red Lion) boosted us."
This year, four county school districts -- Red Lion, Central, Dover and Spring Grove -- were selected as a "Best Communities for Music Education" in the United States.
That's four districts out of just 176 awards in the entire country handed out last month by the nonprofit National Associated of Music Merchants.
The organization recognizes districts and surrounding communities that have a financial commitment to music, have a variety of opportunities and generally support music.
The non-monetary award is meant to help those communities to attract and retain support for their programs, according to the foundation.
"We're very fortunate to have such a strong community backing. Everyone understands the importance of the arts in schools," said George Bradshaw, Dover's band director.
Dover choir and band students got to perform in Hawaii last November, relying on fundraising to pay their way.
Elsewhere: At Spring Grove, about 80 percent of students are involved in some form of music, said Tim Bupp, the elementary instrumental music director.
That's anything from choirs and bands to advanced
"The kids that are in the (music) program see that it is fun. It's a snowball effect," Bupp said.
Spring Grove also has an alumni chorus with 70 singers and a music and performance arts endowment, along with a variety of bands and choirs that travel and perform all over the place.
Central York earned the award for the fifth straight year, in part because of the "complete and unconditional support" of the school board and administrators, said Jon Moyer, the music department chairman.
And it might also be because of unique programs such as the music showcase for faculty members, which gives students the rare chance to see their teachers perform.
"The entire community can kind of rally around and show their support. It gives students a chance to see music is a lifelong thing," Moyer said.
Lifelong love of music: And at Red Lion, music appreciation is something the staff tries to instill in elementary students.
Curtis Crone, the band director, and Chad Keiser, who helps oversee the elementary music program, said they want students to try any instrument they want to in elementary school, without pressuring them to play an instrument they don't like.
"Otherwise, they end up quitting because they don't excel at it. Retention has been a lot better," Keiser said.
Younger students also get the chance to play alongside high school students to hopefully get inspired, the same way a young basketball player might look up to a varsity guard.
And the high school music students regularly perform in the community, Crone said, which benefits students and also keeps the music program in the minds of residents.
The hope is students develop a lifelong love of performing music, as with Logan Brown, who said he plans to keep involved in music at Penn State University next year.
-- Reach Andrew Shaw at 505-5431 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ydblogwork